There’s so much that doesn’t work about Patrick Hughes The Hitman’s Bodyguard it’s hard to figure out where to begin. It’s incompetent in style and tone. The farther away I get from it the happier I am that this experience is behind me.
At almost two hours The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a chore of a theatrical experience. It has no sense of self. Tonally schizophrenic it tries to blend ultra violence with slapstick comedy but fails because it never fully realizes that slapstick in of itself is kind of violent.
It’s packed wall to wall with action but after a while, it becomes visual white noise. The action is serviceable but outside of a boat chase scene through Venice, which also goes on for far too long, it’s all just mindless gun shots, explosions, and car crashes. It would be nice if we knew where characters were in relation to all the mayhem surrounding them but Hughes can’t be bothered to show us.
Hughes seems torn between numbing us with loud excruciating boringly action sequences or trying to sedate us with the seemingly impossible; making Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson bland. They are allowed to do nothing or anything aside from yell, shoot, yell some more, and blow up a car.
As the movie starts we are shown that Amelia (Elodie Yung) and Reynold’s Michael Bryce are a couple. They are happy, content, and in love. Take refuge for this is one of the few times the filmmakers will show you something instead of shouting it at you. Bryce, a triple A rated Executive Bodyguard, leaves early, to escort a client Kurosawa (Tsuwayuki Saotome) to his plane. All goes well until Kurosawa is shot by a sniper while on the plane. Bryce is convinced Amelia is responsible.
Why? Because for the first time ever he told someone the name of the client. So logically he blames her. So we flash forward to two years later. Bryce is still a bodyguard but with a trashed reputation and without his beloved triple A rating. Amelia, however, is a rising star at Interpol.
Amelia is tasked with transporting infamous hitman Darrius Kincaid (Jackson) so he can testify at the Hague against the Belarusian President Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) for crimes against humanity. Things go awry, Amelia and Kincaid flee, and she calls in Bryce. He still blames her for what happened two years ago because it’s that type of movie. So now Bryce must get Kincaid to the Hague. Hilarity does not ensue
There’s a toxic masculinity creeping around the edges of the frames of The Hitman’s Bodyguard. One of the most egregious crimes, in a movie jam packed with them, is how Hughes and his scriptwriter Tom O’Connor treat Amelia and by proxy Yung. An actress with as much charisma and talent as the two male leads but who is made to suffer the indignity of having to be both the love interest and ‘saved’.
While Reynolds and Jackson are allowed to mug for the camera for what seems like an eternity she is on a quest to find the mole inside Interpol. The problem is Hughes and O’Connor have already told us who the mole is. So they use this as an excuse to spend little to no time with her and her quest. Even though dramatically speaking Amelia’s story is inherently more interesting.
No, we’re forced to endure banal vulgar ridden banter that thirteen-year-old boys know better to avoid. I have no qualms against cursing but there should be some joy to it. There’s so much here that after a while we become inured and it loses what impact it could have had.
The mole Jean Foucher is played by the great heel character actor Joaquim de Almedia. Almedia excels at the types of roles where you wonder how he made it through HR without some kind of red flag. He’s given as much to do here as everyone else. Which is to say hardly anything.
At one point Bryce calls Amelia to ‘forgive her’ for something she didn’t do. Something he has no reason to believe her of doing aside from the movie needing some hackneyed reason for them to be not together, the two men have a heart to heart. One in a series of countless heart to hearts.
After Bryce tells Kincaid about Amelia’s reaction to his forgiveness, Kincaid laughs. “Yeah. Women don’t like to be forgiven for s***. Because it usually means they did some s***.”
A client of Bryce’s was sniped. Bryce continually blames Amelia for it based on nothing but he told her the client’s name. He’s a bodyguard. There are assassins. He’s guarding the most infamous assassins there is. Yet, he still blames Amelia for ruining his life, reputation, and career.
Worst of all is the eventual reconciliation between Bryce and Amelia. A reconciliation that we know is coming because The Hitman’s Bodyguard is so woefully unoriginal and trite that it would never dare to pitch a curveball such as a woman not forgiving a man for his asinine toxic bull s***. Oh, she’s allowed to ferret out the mole. But when she confronts Foucher she is then taken hostage. You’ll never guess who saves her.
All of this is made excruciating more aggravating because there are some things that work. Salma Hayek as Kincaid’s wife Sonia is a wonderful reprieve from the tiresome bickering of the leads. There’s a wonderful crassness about her Sonia. She seems to be something approaching a caricature which is more than most of the others are able to achieve. The fact that she manages to breathe any life into Sonia at all is notable because unlike Jackson and Reynolds, she is oftentimes by herself.
Then again it seems everybody is by themselves. The talented cast is abandoned by a director with no sense of tone, style or his material. Hughes can’t decide between bathing his characters in warm, soft, bright lights or forcing them to walk through a blandly generic lit cityscape. The visual tone is so wildly inconsistent it’s jarring.
I struggled to figure out what was the point of anything I was seeing. If it was meant to be mindless fun then it succeeded on part of the promise. But at one point Bryce and Kincaid actually enter somewhat of a moral debate about the types of people Kincaid kills and Bryce protects. The movie drops this almost immediately and barely touches on it again.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard is about nothing. If it’s about anything it’s about two hours and it shouldn’t even be about that. There is almost nothing in this movie that is not insipid and bloated. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is an infantile all star mega budget studio vehicle not worth anyone’s time and that’s including the people who made it.